At almost the exact moment that Kathy and I talked about the idea of bringing people of all ages and abilities together to work with horses, we also dreamed of having a safe place where that could happen. In the years since that fateful trail ride, we have conducted classes at many different locations around Snohomish County. Each barn was different and we are so grateful for what we learned at each one. Our first classes were held in the summer of 2018 at Patty’s farm. We had 6 participants and were doing adaptive riding lessons. Patty donated her arena and the use of one of her horses to help us get started. Next, we moved to Dr. Hannah’s farm, and, for the first time, were able to pay for our arena time and her horses. Kathy also transported 2 horses each week for lessons. After we closed for Covid in 2020, we opened back up doing only unmounted classes at Kathy’s barn and just as we ran out of space there, we met Lori and began having classes at Alpine Ridge. Once we started to outgrow Lori’s, Kim allowed us to have our workshops at her barn. The support and collaboration we found from these women was amazing and helped us to grow in many ways.
All along this journey, our staff would dream of what we could do with a place of our own. More classes, a veteran’s program, a garden, other animals in addition to our horses for people to enjoy, and a volunteer program that would encourage people with physical or cognitive challenges to volunteer in a way that would bring purpose and be suited to their individual capabilities. We also dreamed of things like a waiting area for our participant families, an ADA accessible bathroom, storage for all of our “stuff”, and a space where we could hold events. Our dream is coming true!
In 2021, we wrote a grant to the Dan Thompson Memorial Fund describing our dream, which they approved, and together with the Washington State Taxpayers they awarded us a grant to cover the purchase of our farm as well as the necessary equipment and renovations to fulfill all of our needs. This private/public grant is somewhat unique and would never have happened without the perseverance and hard work of our new friends at DSHS, DDA, and the Commerce Department of Washington. Our most sincere thanks go to Addie, Joe, Heather, Tom, Nicole, Brittany, and almost surely some others that I have left out, for being so invested in seeing this project to completion for Courageous Connections.
There are so many other names--volunteers, staff, participants, horses, donors, friends, and family--who have supported us in so many ways to get to this point, and hopefully, each of you knows how important your contribution has been. It turns out, dreams do come true, but this dream could never have happened without everyone who helped us. As we all settle into our forever home, we are so grateful and excited to see what the future holds.